Vincenne: The hood

Thought I’d show you a few pics from right around where I’m staying in the ville of Vincenne just southeast of the 1000-hectare Bois (forest) de Vincenne, in the 12th arrondisement of Paris proper. I haven’t really explored it yet, but it has a zoological park with a man-made mountain for the zoo’s population of alpine goats, plus 134 other species, plus a buddhist temple, a Chateau (the Versailles of the Middle Ages), and two sets of lakes. I’ve only been in a little corner, hardly anything at all, just a shortcut to get to the Metro, but to the left is a guardhouse within that shortcut, to give you an idea of the trees and greenery that abound. Here’s a website about this de Vincenne.

Below is a photo of the block I’m staying in from the vantage of a nearby bistro I found.

And to the left is the building I’m staying in. Valerie’s place is on the top floor, right-hand side with the balconies.

I told my son Zeb about the elevator I take up to the 6th etage (i.e., 7th floor) to get to the apartment. It’s sign says it can only hold three people maximum (or 225 kilos), so he was curious about what it looked like. So this pic’s for you kid


I go to sleep and wake up to the sound of French family life, the nearby express train, an occasional police siren with it’s distinctive two-tone sound, and the billing and cooing of these two pigeons, who rule the light well.

Towards the afternoon, these two are very active flying from window sill to window sill caressing each other I think. Doesn’t quite look like mating, but I now know what “billing” is. Tried to get a pic of it, but this one actually turned out pretty well. This is definitely their territory, though there are needle-like spikes on quite a few of the sills where they can’t land, including just below my window. I asked, and evidently they never actually fly in, though there are no screens on the windows, just metal shutters.

On the way to the Super Marche (aka supermarket, about the size of the old Fresh Mart up on Duffus in my neighborhood at home), I saw these cows. Couldn’t resist taking a pic, since I seem to be in an animal mode.

Cow statues on ledge

Cows on the ledge of a building across from where I was staying

I kind of got into checking all these things out because my expectations of what I was coming into and what was actually here were somewhat at a disconnect. I’ve not had a roommate particularly since possibly in college — somewhere back in antiquity, so didn’t have quite the right approach, plus I was in a somewhat vulnerable condition and needed a bit more help than what my roommate expected to have to give, so I listened and rested a lot and stayed in my room more than I might usually, so you’re getting the benefit of all these weird details of my environment, besides the fact that weird details are some of my favorites noticings. We seem to be doing quite well now as I’ve become more independent and gone from the neighborhood for most of the day. I’m quite liking Vincenne though. It’s rather nice not to overhear so much English.

Ah, one last thing. I did go on Tuesday evening with Valerie, who had returned for a few days between trips to the country, to the evening sitting at the Kalu Rinpoche’s centre, which is where the Paris Shambhala Centre is located at the moment. It was quite a beautiful room (didn’t take pics) with a large life size gold finished statue of the Shakyamuni Buddha in touching the earth mudra pose and lovely thankas around the room. Nice bright prayer flags hung around the sitting area. Afterwards there was tea and cookies, though rather nice ones and a little bit of leftover sake from the previous weekend when Herb Elsky led a dharma art weekend. They’re slowly looking into renting/buying/finding a house sort of centre, which seems to be the preferred mode for European centres these days (rather than office space).

I’ve arranged to go over to a sangha member’s house tomorrow evening for a viewing of the Sakyong’s DVD and am looking forward to doing my first Werma sadhana in French. I’ll try and catch up with you on my tourist activities tomorrow.

[Note: If you want to see a larger version of any of the pics, you can double click on it and it will come up in a separate window. I’m also going to set up a “slide show” connected to the blog where you can just look at the photos.] Aurevoir for now.